Written by: Robin C. Farrell | February 24th, 2022
I’ll Find You (Martha Coolidge, 2019) 3 out of 4 stars.
While I’ll Find You might seem like an all-too-familiar period love story, it winds up being something of a collection of surprises. It follows the traditions of the romance genre and also offers something new. Supposedly inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, it tells the tale of young musicians Rachel (Adelaide Clemens, To the Stars) and Robert (Leo Suter, Fallen), who meet while both passionately studying the violin in Poland.
Their relationship, while at first rocky and competitive, evolves into young love, despite the fact that Robert is Catholic and Rachel, Jewish. Robert impresses a famed opera star, Benno Moser (Stellan Skarsgård, Dune), with an unexpected gift for singing and abandons the violin for opera. The film then jumps ahead several years when the two reunite and their continued connection over music rekindles the romance between them.
Between Rachel’s engagement to someone else, as well as their different religions, the obstacles posed for them aren’t trivial but the real threat emerges with the Nazi invasion of Poland, religion as a divisive factor falling by the wayside. As the film deftly conveys, this isn’t solely about their romance. While the rest of World War II is being fought elsewhere (and right on top of them, occasionally), and, yes, Rachel happens to be the love of Robert’s life, this is one precarious attempt to save at least one family, even one life, from genocide.
Some of the more emotional moments of realization, connection, and high romance are played quietly, even passively, but that doesn’t impact the overall experience. The relationships are compelling, Clemens and Suter play their roles beautifully, and the theme of musicianship is constant, without being overstated or out of place. The film does rely heavily on an audience’s preexisting knowledge of the era, though. The danger that the Nazis present isn’t fully realized until close to the end, highlighting the war’s gritty aftermath in 1945. It doesn’t go amiss, but some of the weightier visuals could have gone a long way earlier in the film to remind us why those early days were so dangerous and what the invasion actually meant.
But that kind of gritty realism isn’t the point here. I’ll Find You isn’t a deep dive into history and therefore stays consistent. Director Martha Coolidge (Material Girls) doesn’t let the film stray into the brutal horror when the message is that love conquers all; that there is hope, even amongst the tragedy. I found myself emotionally invested even without a grittier backdrop. This is unlike almost any other film of this era I have seen before and to find a new approach is something to be appreciated.